If someone you care about is pregnant, new research has revealed an incredibly simple way your loved one could help keep her baby from being born too early. The data, gathered from two different clinical trials, found that thousands of early preterm births—those that occur up to 34 weeks into the pregnancy—could possibly be prevented by taking an affordable DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) supplement.
DHA occurs naturally in our cell membranes, with the biggest concentration found in our brain cells. If you think you’ve heard of DHA before, you’re probably right. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that’s often mentioned when fish-oil supplements are being discussed.
Prevent over 100,000 premature births a year!
Fish oil is typically rich in both EPA and DHA, and the supplement is recommended for everything from reducing your heart attack risk to alleviating muscle pain. But now researchers say a trial in the US, and another in Australia, has found that DHA alone could help us avoid over 107,000 high-risk pre-term births every single year, according to the study published in the journal Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids.1
Babies born too early can suffer from all kinds of complications and illnesses. Tragically, many don’t survive, and those that do often end up spending weeks, or even months, in the hospital. Even when these little ones finally get to head home they’re not out of the woods, because they’re at a much higher risk for returning to the hospital in their first year of life, than babies that go full term.
In both randomized controlled trials pregnant women took a daily DHA supplement. When researchers crunched the numbers they found significantly less babies being born too early, when compared to pregnant women taking a placebo. And that’s fantastic news for pregnant women everywhere, because, until now, there haven’t been ANY effective methods for stopping women from going into labor too early.
Raise DHA levels with diet or supplements
Women in the U.S. tend to get less DHA than women in the rest of the developed world. And since unborn babies get their DHA from their mother, the lower mom’s levels are the lower baby’s will likely be. You can raise your own DHA levels through diet, or by taking a supplement.
The new study built on earlier research that found a similar link between omega-3s and a reduced risk for preterm births. In a 2013 study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, mothers taking 600 milligrams of DHA were less likely to give birth to underweight babies or babies born before the 34th week of pregnancy.2
If someone you care about is pregnant, or planning on getting pregnant be sure to tell her about this exciting new study, and suggest she talk with her doctor about taking a DHA supplement. You very well may help save her baby’s life!
1. “Predicting the effect of maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation to reduce early preterm birth in Australia and the United States using results of within country randomized controlled trials,” Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, September 2016Volume 112, Pages 44–49
2. “DHA supplementation and pregnancy outcomes,” Am J Clin Nutr, February 20, 2013
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